Study Guide

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 1, Chapter 10

By Laurence Sterne

Book 1, Chapter 10

  • Tristram insists that the parson deserves some credit for getting the midwife certified. Here comes the parson's story.
  • Five years ago, the parson rode around on the worst horse possible. This horse made Don Quixote's horse look like a Mercedes. The parson had a lovely saddle and stirrups, but he never used them. In fact, he looks ridiculous—a long, skinny man on a long, skinny horse.
  • Why did he ride such a stupid horse? He gave all sorts of excuses, but the true reason was that he used to love to own good horses, but they inevitably got ruined. Why? The midwife lived too far away.
  • Desperate husbands would beg him for the beast, ride the hell out of it, and eventually make it useless: "clapped, or spavined, or greazed;-- (…) twitter-boned, or broken-winded."
  • So the parson, figuring that he could spend the same amount of money in a more effective way, started to buy broken-down horses. That way, he could lend them out without worrying that they'd get ruined.
  • Once he paid the midwife's expenses, though, the story came out, and everyone assumed that he only paid for the midwife so he could ride nice horses again.
  • And here's some more about him… in the next chapter.

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